Yep, all moms have been here!
By Sayeda Habib
I wonder what your first response to the title of this article was. Did you get a bit angry that I would even insinuate that any mother, let alone you, could feel even the slightest bit of resentment towards your kids? I wouldn’t be surprised, but just humour me for now and allow me to explain what I mean. Reflect on yourself for a moment. You’re a devoted mother. You do everything you possibly can for your children, and always put them first. You’ve given up opportunities to advance your career, and perhaps not even had time to look after yourself. Think back, have there been any times where you’ve just felt exhausted or spent? During those moments, did you ever feel so angry at the kids that you didn’t want to be around them? Perhaps you found yourself wishing that you’d never had them- and then felt guilty for having those emotions?
Whether you’ve longed for your single days, craved for a moment of “me” time, or just wondered what happened to your life- trust me, you’re not alone. Having these moments doesn’t make you a bad mother either- it makes you human! I think that as moms, we can all relate to having times like these. Even though these emotions are short-lived, the guilt that follows may not be. And if we aren’t aware of it, we can get caught in a cycle of resentment-guilt which can be triggered by a variety of life situations and repeat itself more often than we’d like.
What would it be like to break this cycle? I imagine it would be amazing right? Think of a situation where you can be there for yourself and your kids. Your energy tank has some fuel in it, so you actually have something to give. As moms, we often don’t refuel, and then burnout follows. A byproduct of that burnout is the resentment-guilt cycle that i’m talking about. So let’s look at some practical ways to break this cycle, so we can truly enjoy our kids the way we want to.
Remember that your kids can sense it!
Human beings are amazing because we communicate all the time. We are communicating with our body language, our tone of voice, even our thoughts. Our words only make up about 5 percent of the total message we are sending. So if you’re feeling resentful towards your kids a lot of the time, this is a sign that something deeper needs to be dealt with. Not to mention that your kids know how you feel, even if you’re not saying anything. You don’t need to be taking your resentments out on them for them to really feel what’s going on. Our vibes, body language, and our tone of voice give us away each time. So, if you’re harboring resentments, albeit silently, your kids are sensing them and receiving the unconscious message that they are unwanted, a burden, or unloved. So if these emotions are surfacing often, then it might be the time to seek some support so you can break through this pattern for good.
Catch the burnout before it happens
One of the reasons why resentments occur is that you’re just plain burnt out. Being this tired means you’ve already crossed the point where you have anything to give, so their smallest tantrum or bad behaviour can trigger a severe reaction from you. The key to breaking this pattern is to catch yourself before you get this tired. The problem here is that most of us don’t sense the fatigue before it actually hits us, by then it’s too late. The way to break this pattern is to set yourself some measurable targets for self-care. If those targets aren’t being met, then that should be a sign to you that you’re heading for burnout. So think of up to three things that are telltale signs for you. For example, if you’ve not slept for 2-3 nights, or you haven’t exercised or eaten a proper meal. Whatever it is for you, write it down. Also, get your significant other, or close family member involved in this process. That person is on the outside and can often see the signs before you do. Ask them what they’ve seen before, and how they can tell that you’re burnt out. Write these signs down- remember, awareness is the first step to creating any change!
Ditch the guilt!
The problem with us moms is that we spend too much of our time feeling guilty! We are either feeling guilty about something we did to our kids, or we’re feeling guilty about making some time for ourselves. Whatever the reason, guilt isn’t a constructive emotion. It just gives us a sense that we’ve done something wrong, but without an alternative behaviour. So, if you find yourself caught in the guilt- trap, ask yourself whether it’s about something truly valid. If it is, then by all means change the behaviour, if it’s not, then just let the guilt go.
I’m sure that you’ve heard this advice many times before, but do make some time to do something that fulfils you. It need not be just taking a break and going out, it could be work- but something that makes you, “you” and gives you a sense of fulfilment. If you add some of that into your schedule, you will find yourself feeling happier, more energetic-with more to give your kids. And remember, kids do what they see you do, so if they see you living a fulfilled life, they will have a great role model to do the same.
It’s OK to get some help!
I don’t know about you, but i’d like to think that i’m supermom. I’m pretty sure that we’d all like to feel that we’ve got it all handled. However, life isn’t like that. We may have too many commitments, or just a curve-ball or two- it’s ok to reach out for some help. If you wait for a tough day, you may not find someone in that moment, nor will you put your best foot forward. Also, I know of moms who worry that they will be judged, but to be honest, being a little vulnerable with others will often bring out their more compassionate side. Also, you’re not waiting to ask when you’re in the middle of a bad day. I suggest that you think about your support network in advance. Create one or two options, so that they are there when you actually need them. This may be in the form of a reliable family member, friend, or neighbor. Perhaps you might find a reliable child care facility in advance. By being proactive, you are composed and ready to make choices that will truly be a good fit for your situation. This way you have someone to step in on the days when you need it most.
Being a mom is the toughest job in the world so give yourself some credit for doing your best. We all have tough days, as we are all human. All we can do is forgive ourselves and do something different next time. I hope that you will find these strategies useful in breaking through any patterns of resentment and giving your best to yourself and your kids.
Sayeda Habib is an author, speaker, and certified coach. Her passion and vision is to make coaching accessible to Muslims all over the globe. She appears on television, radio, runs webinars, and writes, all in order to educate the Muslim community about coaching, and how it can be used to help people create lives that they truly love.
Sayeda began her coaching career in 2004 and is certified as a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation. She is the author of “Discover the Best in You: Life Coaching for Muslims” She currently writes for a variety of Muslim publications and speaks at Islamic educational events and conferences.